Monday, February 16, 2009

Driskill Hotel

The Driskill Hotel was established in 1886. That is so old, it is older than the concept of the hamburger. The first hamburger, according to the Odyssey historian FriedEd, was created in Athens, Texas in the late 1880's. As such, we do not think the Driskill was kickin' out burgers when it first opened its doors. But, at the Driskill Hotel, located at 6th and Congress, a little restaurant called the "1886 Cafe" does today.

We choose the Driskill for this Odyssey visit for two reasons. First off, BurgerMatt had the elegant and classy Mustard Madeline in town and we needed a place to match her style. BurgerMatt and MustardMadeline had the day before rounded up a Hill Country road trip in which they had thoroughly geeked out on Cowboy crap. In a single day, they revived the cowboy tourism business in Fredricksburg and Luckenbach. Country songs are already being sung about these city slickers and all the gold they spilled. The Driskill seemed a nice topping for that. They strolled in with cowboy hats, cowboy boots, belt buckles and I am sure they had some stirrups somewhere.

Secondly, the Driskill was also a good choice for President's Day. The first President to stay at the Driskill was William McKinley in 1901. Lyndon and Lady Bird had their first date at the hotel cafe and LBJ watched the 1964 Presidential election returns at the Driskill. I am sure other presidents have stayed there as it is very Presidential. The 19th century architecture is studded with marble floors, columns and brass gilded ceilings. It was the fanciest burger blog yet. We even had valet service, a definite Odyssey first.

We sat down and were joined as usual by Rock Star and Sage. By this point, we have gotten so good at organizing, Sage knew where to go by ESP. The cafe offers only one burger (unless you count their veggie burger) and it is called the "1886 Bacon Blue Cheese Burger." FriedEd does not like cheese that is that old so he substituted cheddar. Others substituted Swiss. Served up before the burger is a nice basket of bread with excellent cheese straws.

As the burgers arrived we were going crazy with anticipation and we snapped some photos posing with the burgers. The fries started it off with a bang. They were truffle seasoned with Parmesan cheese. I must say they have been the best fries in all of the places we have been. Sadly, it all went downhill from there. The burger tasted like it had been frozen for two weeks and then thrown into the microwave, bread and all. The bread was crumbly, the patty tasted like an old whore that had been used and abused, and the cheddar tasted like, well it had been sitting out since 1886. We compared the whole experience to meeting a beautiful women, getting all excited about her, and then finding out that she attended the University of Oklahoma. Beautiful on the outside, horrible once you find out more. Very sad. Driskill, we reserve the right to call PETA for serving something not resembling a cow.

Despite the bad burger, the night was a good one. The Odyssey sees the taste of the burger as only one element of a good night out, as with good people, a few laughs and a classic place you can not go wrong. We hit the Driskill bar for some drinks after the burgers to drink away the taste and we got lost in the 19th century. FriedEd taught BurgerMatt some Cowboy etiquette and we all posed with a Longhorn on the wall. As we walked out, the 21st century was a rude awakening. It was a nice step back in time. Sadly, burgers were not all that good in 1886.

Burger: 50
Fries: 96
Cheesestraws: 90
Feeling of Stomach One Hour later: 70
Quality of Hot Chicks Around: 100


Howdy folks! To say I may have embraced my Texas roots since returning from a 14 year hiatus, well that might be a bit of an understatement. My new MHT Cowboy hat, which stands for Master Hatters of Texas, signifies the completion of my journey back home. Tonight's blog was what a Cowboy could dream of. A night at The Driskill with your friends and loved ones enjoying a good burger and having a night cap at this Texas legend.

As we sat down for a night of high anticipation, we were greeted by our waitress who was not the happiest to see this Motley Crue of burger aficionados. As we all ordered the exact same thing save the cheese and how the burger was cooked, we got the sense we might not be the clientele she wanted to service. Mustard Madeleine ordered a tortilla soup to start that, along with the bread baskets, hit a home run. Then when the burgers arrived, they looked huge and tasty. The fries were an immediate hit, topped with salt, cheese and yes truffle oil, the blogs excitement hit a high and anticipation for this burger had us thinking we might have found a match to our childhood favorite, Jack's Burger House.

Just as the Alamo went down with a fight so did this burger. (The fight being the fries.) So disappointing was this burger it makes me scared to go back to The Driskill Grill, a four star restaurant in the hotel. Our waitress did not help things out by giving us the check and not even asking if we wanted coffee or desert. This is a four star hotel and the service was half a star to be on the nice side.

Moving up to the upstairs bar to indulge in a nightcap The Driskill's legend finally hit a home run. A bar that most western Cowboys could only dream of, a piano, live music, cowhide bar stools and saddles for decor you can't help but look around waiting for "The Duke" to walk in. This bar will undoubtedly be visited by all of our friends who make the long journey to Austin, we'll just have to go somewhere else to get a good burger.

Burger 50
Fries 95
Upstairs Bar 98

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